Director: Christian Petzold
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Christian Petzold’s Transit has the elements of a mystery that should keep you on the edge of your seat. The story follows a 30-something German named Georg (Rogowski), who takes the identity of a deceased author in an attempt to escape the Nazi takeover of France. He finds himself stuck in Marseilles, where he falls in love with a woman who is searching for her missing husband.
The German-made film is visually stunning — there are sweeping shots of the French countryside and scenes in intimate restaurants and family-owned shops. But a mishmash of time elements derails what could be an interesting story. But we’re never sure of the time period. The Nazis are invading France. But it’s clearly not World War II. There are modern cars in the background and the characters are dressed in modern clothes. We see Georg hiding from the soldiers, but we never see swastikas or other Nazi symbols.
Transit is based on the 1942 book by Anna Seghers. But the film feels like today because of the cars and clothes, even though Georg is trying to escape the Nazis. This attempt at modernism falls short. The movie moves at a snail’s space — most of its 142 minutes are filled with scene of Georg pursuing an unknown woman.
Between the confusing time element and the weak narrative, Petzold’s adaptation of Seghers’ book falls short. It is a movie that will simply come and go. And maybe that’s what’s best for everyone. It would be hard to imagine anybody leaving the theater being satisfied with what they watched.